NFL Week 1 Rapid Reaction
1) Redskins-Saints- Robert Griffin III looked absolutely magnificent in Washington’s stunning 40-32 win over New Orleans on Sunday. He hit on his first eight throws, looked completely composed both inside and outside the pocket and was able to improvise and hit receivers like Pierre Garcon deep. The troubling takeaway for the Saints has to be the lack of offensive consistency. Yes, they scored over 30 points but they had an abnormally large amount of three-and-outs, four of them, which allowed Washington to hold the ball for over 39 minutes. Did losing G Carl Nicks in free agency disrupt the entire offense?
Quote- ”We knew the type of team they were. We knew the type of defense they were. They just came in and played better than we did, made fewer mistakes than we did, made more plays than we did.” –Saints QB Drew Brees.
2) Bills-Jets- The big takeaways for me were the consistency and continuity of the Jets’ offensive line and the emergence of their secondary receivers in their 48-28 win. Preseason be damned, Mark Sanchez was incredibly well protected and had the time to throw to Jeremy Kerley and rookie Stephen Hill, both of whom could provide stability and long-term security for the offense. On the other side, Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick never gave his team a chance, making rushed and poor decisions and not really giving his team a chance. A more balanced run game around CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson are in order.
Quote- ”I think there’s always a big target on Mark’s back and I think he likes it. He’s a guy we trust and know what he’s capable each week, and he showed it today.” –Jeremy Kerley.
3) Eagles-Browns- Cleveland’s defense will end up winning them games this season and Philadelphia’s offensive line is in deep trouble with Jason Peters out for the season despite the 17-16 win. Michael Vick threw four interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked twice by an underrated unit paced by former Bears and Bills head coach Dick Jauron. Luckily for Philadelphia, Brandon Weeden had a rough first game and the Eagles were able to get a late score and pull out a tough road win.
Quote- “You could see that he fought back. He kept making plays. Regardless of him being down on himself, everybody was saying, `We will still ride with you.’ It was a good situation to see him come back and make a game-winning throw.” –Eagles WR DeSean Jackson on Vick.
4) 49ers-Packers- Man, are the Niners tough or what. Albert Breer of the NFL Network made a great point on Twitter during the game on Sunday: Usually when teams load up at wide receiver during the offseason, they get softer on offense. But they actually went to Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss, but still used their physical style of play to move the ball on a Green Bay defense that is still clearly a weak unit. San Francisco’s defense was once again wonderful and the Niners left Lambeau Field with a gigantic win.
Quote- “They’ve got a great defense. You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve got some of the top guys in the league at their position.” –Packers QB Aaron Rodgers after the 30-22 loss.
5) Panthers-Buccaneers- I don’t care if Jonathan Stewart was out. Carolina is a running team and they managed to run the ball just 13 times in a 16-10 loss. That’s inexplicable, inexcusable and the reason they lost a very winnable game at a Raymond James Stadium that was maybe three-quarters full. Greg Schiano’s Bucs showed a good deal of toughness and Josh Freeman managed the game well, but the Panthers’ play calling lost the game. Plain and simple.
Quote- ”They have some very talented players, and we swarmed on them all day long, and kept Cam in check.” –Bucs CB Ronde Barber, who had an interception in the win.
Thoughts & Theories
-Yes it’s obvious but is worth repeating. The replacement officials are not only compromising the integrity of the games, and the league, they’re making games last a lot longer and significantly worsening the viewing experience of the games. If not for a defensive stand by Arizona at the end of the Seahawks game, refs would have been blamed for the Cards loss when they gave Seattle an extra time out. Making matters worse, each officiating crew has a rules guru who’s supposed to know what to do in specialized situations. And that guy even blew it!
-It’s hard not to think of deja vu with Titans running back Chris Johnson. Against a Patriots defense not known for being amazing run stuffers, Johnson gained four yards on 11 carries on Sunday. Yes, you read that correctly. The team is already reportedly upset internally with offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and things could get ugly if this team doesn’t have a stronger season in a division that’s very weak other than Houston.
-On the New England side, you have to be excited about the play of Chandler Jones and Dont’A Hightower, who combined for a fumble return for a TD in the win. If they can complement Jerod Mayo on that front seven, the Pats will be much improved on defense this season.
-On the Dolphins: Jeff Ireland should have known he was going to be on the hot seat, and drafting a rookie QB with such little experience in Ryan Tannehill (and then compounding the problem by starting him right away) when you need immediate results to save his job was going to be a problem. After Miami’s blowout loss to Houston, there’s already talk that Ireland will be bounced unless the team shows major improvement. Ireland should start selling his house, because this Dolphins team is going to be really bad.
-With a full offseason under his belt with the tutelage of Mike Mularkey, Blaine Gabbert showed a lot of fight on the road against Minnesota. That 39-yard game-tying TD pass to Cecil Shorts with 20 seconds left showed a lot of guts and poised and the ball was perfectly placed. Gabbert and Vikings QB Christian Ponder showed that players who were rookies in the lockout season are going to show a ton of improvement this season.
-It took a little time, but Peyton Manning’s offensive machine is now revved up and ready to go. Brandon Stokley provided an early security blanket, but then Manning got into rhythm with Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker and they were able to beat up a Pittsburgh cornerback unit that just isn’t very good. And the offense isn’t even Denver’s best unit. Von Miller ravaged the subpar Steelers offensive line and Tracy Porter emerged as someone who’s going to be an impact player on Jack Del Rio’s defense.
-Yes the Rams fell 27-23 to Detroit, but the secondary emerged as a strength with Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins both picking off Matthew Stafford passes. With Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola both performing well in the passing game, there should finally be some optimism for St. Louis fans with Jeff Fisher.